The First: Stories of Inventions and their Consequences

The First: Stories of Inventions and their Consequences
Stories of Inventions and their Consequences

The First Apartment Building in America (A Stuyvesant Story)
Jan 3, 2018 • 25 min
Apartment living is something we take for granted today, the option for those who can’t afford or don’t desire a private home. But how did this type of living situation become popular in the United States? In mid-19th century New York, people lived in…
The Lost Highway: America’s First Cross Country Road
Dec 21, 2017 • 34 min
In 1900, there were about 8,000 registered automobiles in the United States. They were a genuine novelty. Those that attempted to go on ‘road trips’ met with a frustrating reality — there were no drivable roads, no unified road maps, no nation-wide…
How Electric Light Changed Christmas Forever
Dec 6, 2017 • 28 min
That string of multi-colored Christmas lights wrapped around your tree (or your house) is far more influential to American history than you might think. The first electric Christmas lights debuted in 1882, shortly after the invention of the…
The Plant Doctor: The Extraordinary George Washington Carver
Oct 6, 2017 • 31 min
How much do you know about George Washington Carver, the man born into slavery who became America’s most famous botanist in the first half of the 20th century? He didn’t discover the peanut, a legume commonplace in the human diet for thousands of…
The Real Housewives of Early America: The Story of the First American Cookbook
Sep 21, 2017 • 30 min
“Over the river and through the woods” into the history of early American cuisine. The first published European cookbooks in the world weren’t meant to enshrine ideal meals but rather to inform a woman of her place in the household with…
The Rebel: America’s Founding Inventor
Aug 24, 2017 • 40 min
Benjamin Franklin was the most famous American in the world by the time of the Revolutionary War, known as a writer, inventor and philosopher. But as an old man, he would earn another title — rebel. By the time of the Boston Massacre, Dr. Franklin…
Lightning Strikes: Benjamin Franklin’s Philadelphia Experiment
Aug 11, 2017 • 30 min
How much do you know about one of the most famous scientific experiments in American history? In 1752 Benjamin Franklin and his son William performed a dangerous act of experimentation, conjuring one of nature’s most lethal powers from the air itself….
Franklin Gothic: The Invention of Benjamin Franklin
Jul 27, 2017 • 34 min
Benjamin Franklin did more in his first forty years than most people do in an entire lifetime. Had he not played a pivotal role in the creation of the United States of America, he still would have been considered an icon in the fields of publishing,…
The Secret History of Soft Drinks: A Tale In Four Flavors
Jun 20, 2017 • 30 min
There is something very, very bizarre about a can of soda. How did this sugary, bubbly beverage – dark brown, or neon orange, or grape, or whatever color Mountain Dew is – how did THIS become such an influential force in American…
The Devil and The First Broadway Musical
Jun 1, 2017 • 23 min
The Black Crook is considered the first-ever Broadway musical, a dizzying, epic-length extravaganza of ballerinas, mechanical sets, lavish costumes and a storyline about the Devil straight out of a twisted hallucination. The show took New York by…
The Bowery Wizards: A History of Early American Tattoos
May 18, 2017 • 23 min
The art of tattooing is as old as written language but it would require the contributions of a few 19th century New York tattoo artists — and a young inventor with no tattoos whatsoever — to take this ancient art to the next level. This is the story…
The First Song Ever Recorded
May 5, 2017 • 10 min
Imagine if we could hear the voices of Abraham Lincoln, Queen Victoria or Frederick Douglass? Believe it or not, somebody was making audio recordings as far back as the 1850s. This is the story of the first audio recordings ever made and the oldest…
Josephine and the Dish-Washing Machine
Apr 21, 2017 • 25 min
Of the tens of thousands of U.S. patents granted in the 19th century, only a small fraction were held by women. One of those women — Josephine Cochrane — would change the world by solving a simple household problem. While throwing lavish dinner…
Nikola Tesla and the Wireless World
Mar 26, 2017 • 28 min
The Serbian inventor Nikola Tesla is known as one of the fathers of electricity, the curious genius behind alternating current (AC), the victor in the so-called War of the Currents. But in this episode of The First, starting in the year 1893,…
The Big Story of Old Bet: The First Circus Elephant
Mar 12, 2017 • 28 min
This year marks the end to the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus and, with it, the end of the traditional American circus. Once at the core of the American circus was the performing elephant. Today we understand that such…
Unimate and the Rise of the Robots
Feb 24, 2017 • 33 min
Robots conjure up thoughts of distant technological landscapes and even apocalyptic scenarios, but the truth is, robots are a very old creation, tracing back to the ancient world. We can thank science fiction writers for inventing new and…
The Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Revolution: The Story of the First Bikini
Feb 10, 2017 • 30 min
In 1907, the professional swimmer Annette Kellerman was arrested on a Massachusetts beach for wearing a revealing bathing suit — a skin-tight black ensemble which covered most of her body. Less than forty years later, in 1946, the owner of a…
This Morbid Invention: The First Electric Chair
Jan 27, 2017 • 27 min
The harnessing of electricity by the great inventors of the Gilded Age introduced the world to the miracle of light at all hours of the day. But exposure to electricity’s raw power was dangerous to man and a few thought this useful…
The Cow and The Country Boy (The First Vaccine)
Jan 13, 2017 • 30 min
This is the story of the first vaccine, perhaps one of the greatest inventions in modern human history. Starring — a country doctor with a love of birds, a milkmaid with translucent skin, an eight-year-old boy with no idea what he’s in for and a…
Making the Pledge of Allegiance
Dec 16, 2016 • 28 min
The Pledge of Allegiance feels like an American tradition that traces itself back to the Founding Fathers, but, in fact, it’s turning 125 years old in 2017. This is the story of the invention of the Pledge, a set of words that have come to embody the…
The Calling: Thomas Watson and the First Telephone
Dec 2, 2016 • 27 min
You may know the story of Alexander Graham Bell and his world famous invention. You may know that Bell made the very first phone call. But do you know the story of the man who ANSWERED that call? His name was Thomas Augustus Watson. He met Bell when…
Every Day Is Thanksgiving: The History of the TV Dinner
Nov 18, 2016 • 28 min
American eating habits were transformed in the early 20th century with innovations in freezing and refrigeration, allowing all kinds of foods to be shipped across the country and stored for long periods of time. But it would actually be the…
Miss Draper: The First Woman Ever Photographed
Nov 3, 2016 • 32 min
Dorothy Catherine Draper is a truly forgotten figure in American history. She was the first woman to ever sit for a photograph — a daguerrotype, actually, in the year 1840, upon the rooftop of the school which would…
The Wheel: Ferris’ Big Idea
Oct 27, 2016 • 47 min
01: The first Ferris Wheel was invented to become America’s Eiffel Tower, making its grand debut at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. The wheel’s inventor George Washington Gale Ferris was a clever and optimistic soul; he did everything in his…
TRAILER Introducing The First
Oct 10, 2016 • 5 min
A preview of The First, a new podcast series from Greg Young of the Bowery Boys: New York City History, examining the birth of inventions and the people whose lives were immediately affected.